Bears Soccer Academy Staff
Gary Higgins, Camp Director
Hired in January of 2015, Gary Higgins is beginning his fourth season as Head Women's Soccer Coach at Lenoir-Rhyne this fall. A former Honorable Mention All-American as a player at L-R, Higgins was named the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year in just his second season at the helm.
A year ago, Higgins led the Bears to an 11-5-2 record, which marked the tenth consecutive season of double-digit victories for the program. Higgins led LR to a season-opening win over nationally-ranked Limestone. Later in the year, the Bears became the only team not to lose to Carson-Newman in the regular season. LR played the Eagles, who went on to an appearance in the 2018 Division II National Championship game, to a 2-2 draw in Jefferson City.
Higgins coached four players to the All-SAC team in 2017 and guided Abbie Brown to a spot on the All-Region squad. He was able to do all this despite losing 14 seniors from the season prior.
In 2016, Lenoir-Rhyne went 13-5-2 on the year including an 8-2-1 mark in league play and won a share of the SAC Regular Season Championship. Lenoir-Rhyne also earned a berth in the NCAA Division II Playoffs while Higgins was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
Five players earned all-league honors with four garnering all-region accolades. Abigael McGarel was also named the 2016 SAC Freshman of the Year.
Higgins led the Bears to a 12-4-2 record in his first season - Lenoir-Rhyne's eighth straight winning season - and went unbeaten (6-0-2) over its final eight matches of the season. The Bears also placed five players on the All-SAC First Team in 2015.
In three seasons, Higgins has compiled a 36-14-6 as Bears mentor.
Higgins came to Lenoir-Rhyne after spending three years as an Assistant Coach for the Tusculum Men's Soccer Team (2012-14).
Higgins graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in health and exercise science and earned his master's in liberal arts the following fall while serving as an Assistant Men's Soccer Coach for the Bears.
Higgins played four years on the men's soccer team at Lenoir-Rhyne (2006-09), where he earned All-South Atlantic Conference and all-region honors twice while being named an honorable mention All-American by Daktronics in 2007.
In addition, Higgins led the Bears to a 19-1-1 record in 2006 and a berth in the championship match of the NCAA Division II Appalachian Region Tournament.
Higgins also played semi-professionally in the United States including stints with the Reading (Pa.) Rage of the USL Premier Development League and the Knoxville Force of the NPSL. Higgins led the Rage to the league semifinals in 2008 and was named Team Most Valuable Player.
Higgins has his United Soccer Coaches Advanced National Diploma, United Soccer Coaches National Diploma and USSF National D coaching license and has served as a coach on the club level for over five years as well as assisting the North Carolina ODP.
Higgins is married to the former Klara Ledford. The couple has one daughter, Mirin Sarah, born in September of 2016.
Jack Winter, Director of Operations
In his first two seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne, Jack Winter has led the Bears to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and owns a career record of 22-9-6.
Prior to his tenure as Head Coach, LR didn't qualified for the playoffs in 10 years. Additionally, he led LR to back-to-back double-digit win totals, something that hasn’t happened since 2006-07.
In 2017, the Bears captured one of the biggest wins in program history when they knocked off defending National Champion Wingate on the road by a score of 1-0. The win ended Wingate’s 18-match league regular season unbeaten streak which dated back to 2015.
Winter has coached back-to-back South Atlantic Conference Players of the Year. In 2016, Ismael Noumansana earned the accolade followed by Ignacio de Goya in 2017.
In 2016, the Bears earned a 3-1 win over Tusculum in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, LR’s first playoff win since 2006. The 2016 campaign ended with 12 wins and a .682 winning percentage.
Winter won a Division II National Championship as a player at Lynn University in 2012. Winter transferred to Lynn after attending Hartpury College in England where he also won a National Championship. Winter was named an All-Conference, All-Region and All-American player while at Lynn.
Winter has two silver medals representing Great Britain at the World University Games in China (2011) and Russia (2013).
Prior to becoming the Head Coach, Winter spent three seasons as an Assistant Coach.
Hector Ladero Rivas, Graduate Assistant
Hector Ladero Rivas just completed his first year as a Graduate Assistant Coach for the Lenoir-Rhyne Men's Soccer Team in 2016.
Rivas was part of a coaching staff which led the Bears to a 12-5-3 record this past fall and a berth in the Second Round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs. LR was making its first playoff appearance in 10 seasons.
Rivas came to Lenoir-Rhyne from Salamanca, Spain, where he played soccer at a very high level for four years. The teams included Real Union de Irun, C.D. Numancia, C.D. Celta Vigo and U.D. Salamanca.
After his time in Spain, Rivas moved to the United States where he played soccer for the Myrtle Beach Mutiny of the National Premiere Soccer League for two years while obtaining his undergraduate degree in business from St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina, in December of 2015.
Rivas spent last summer working as a coach with the FC Barcelona camps in the United States and earned both USSF “F” and “E” coaching licenses.
Kendall Fischlein, Graduate Assistant
Kendall Fischlein enters her first year on the Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer coaching staff. Fischlein was a two-year captain and four-year starter during her playing career at Wake Forest and wrapped up her career in 2016 with 14 points and over 1,200 minutes played.
While playing with the Demon Deacons, Fischlein scored the game-tying goal against No. 4 Notre Dame as a freshman and also scored against No. 6 Virginia Tech that same season. As a sophomore, she was named a Co-Captain and led the team in assists. Over her final two years, she started and played in all but one game and finished second on the team in assists in 2015.
Following her collegiate career, Fischlein played professionally in 2017 with Skovde KIK in Skovde, Sweden where she scored four goals and had five assists in 10 games. Last spring, the North Carolina Courage of the NWSL invited Fischlein to train with the team in preseason.
As a high school standout, Fischlein was a 2012 Region III U17 ESPN Player to Watch and was an Olympic Development Program (ODP) Region III Pool player from 2012-14. Additionally, Kendall received a U.S. Soccer Training Center Invitation in 2010-11.
Fischlein had stints with the Carolina Dynamo, Lake Norman Eclipse, Asheville City Soccer Club and TTi Blue Bonnets in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) from 2014-17.
Fischlein graduated with a degree in Communications with a concentration in media studies from Wake Forest in 2017. She was twice named to the Dean’s List and also earned a pair of selections to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Carlos Rubio, Goalkeeper Coach
Carlos Rubio, a native of Valencia, SPAIN, comes to Lenoir-Rhyne as the men’s and women’s Soccer Team’s Goal Keeper Coach.
Rubio brings invaluable experience to both teams as the Bears look to lock down the net for the 2018 seasons. As a GK himself, he played two years in the highest U19 Division in Spain. In 2015 he began his career in the United States at Ohio Valley University, where he played for three seasons, serving as team captain two of those years and earned himself the title of second-team all-conference his junior campaign. His senior year his team clinch the regular season title, were conference tournament champions and made it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen round of the postseason. That year his list of accolades grew, as he holds claim to First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Second Team All-American.
He went on to play professionally for two summers in 2016 and 2017, for the West Virginia Chaos (2016) and the Tri City Otters (2017).
Not only was Rubio a success on the pitch, but he was in the classroom as well, earning him awards during his time in school such as being inducted into the Sigma Beta Delta Honors Society, named a CoSIDA Academic All-American, a First Team All-American, a three-time G-MAC Academic All-American and earned himself the title of CoSIDA Academic All-District.